Planet B612
Planet B612
Nov 24, 2020
Ep.20 – The origins of life in the universe with Ben K. D. Pearce
Play • 58 min

Is there life on Mars? How did life form on Earth? And, how do scientists learn all of this stuff? In this episode, I speak with astrobiologist and astrophysicist, Ben K. D. Pearce. Ben helps us understand how scientists get clues about the origins of life, what would happen if we found life on Mars, and how atmospheres form on planets!

  • What is an astrobiologist? (0:00:54)
  • Ben used to be a software engineer. (0:01:37)
  • The career re-evaluation process (0:03:10)
  • The freedom and chaos of living in Berlin (0:06:10)
  • Being an older grad student (0:09:10)
  • Life at McMaster University and in Hamilton (0:09:58)
  • The Origins of Life (0:11:21)
  • Two theories about the origins of life (0:13:53)
  • At what point do we think life happened on Earth? (0:17:30)
  • How scientists get clues about the origins of life (0:19:30)
  • The various kinds of scientists that study life (0:22:50)
  • Examples of what Earth might have been like in the past (0:23:53)
  • How does an atmosphere form? (0:24:56)
  • Using info from the past to create an atmosphere in the future (0:26:45)
  • Gazing at the sky when you’re an astrobiologist (0:28:40)
  • What is an exoplanet? (0:30:01)
  • Will we find other life in the universe? (0:31:15)
  • Finding other life in our solar system (0:31:51)
  • Life on Mars (0:33:43)
  • What would happen if we found life on Mars? (0:34:12)
  • The ethics of finding other life (0:35:29)
  • Is it possible that we’ve already had extraterrestrial life on Earth? (0:37:25)
  • Finding Tardigrades on Mars?! (0:39:22)
  • Science communication (0:40:48)
  • Ben’s hobbies: beer and rock-climbing (0:44:13)
  • Brewing beer! (0:46:10)
  • Ben’s love of hot sauces (0:48:44)
  • Ben’s future plans (0:53:00)
  • Ben’s recommendations to learn more about the origins of life (0:56:20)

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